Library Computer: Star Trek Film ‘Making Of’ Books Retrospective

The newly released Trek primer  "Star Trek 101" provides basic narrative and character info on each of the Star Trek movies, but if you want to the full in depth behind the scenes story, you will have to delve deeper into the world of the ‘Making of…’ books. Today TrekMovie takes a look back at these insider accounts of the making of the Star Trek feature films. 



Credited as the very first "Making of" for television, Stephen E. Whitfield’s "The Making of Star Trek" has influenced a generation of television writers and special effects artists, and is still used 40 years later in college classes across the nation. When Star Trek moved to the big screen, it was inevitable that it would receive similar treatment with tomes about the making of the feature films. provides a compilation of the "behind the scenes" books about the ten Star Trek feature films.

NOTE: Some titles that feature "making of" elements, such as William Shatner’s Movie Memories and The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, as well as any non licensed texts have been left off the list as they have either been covered in previous articles, or will be in the future.

Each book will receive a ranking from 1 to 4 (4 being "excellent") based on two criteria: BTSD ( How much has the book provided "behind the scene details" from detailing various drafts of the book to discussing special effects sequences) and PHOTOS (What are the quality and uniqueness of the behind the scenes photographs and artwork included.)

The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1980)
by Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenberry

Ironic that one of the lesser-liked Star Trek feature film features the very best "making of" account. Details abound in the book, from learning trivia about the backgrounds of the many aliens featured in the film (Roddenberry was thinking about clones long before Star Wars Episode II) to the behind the scenes machinations of getting the script in filmable order. The book takes the reader on the entire adventure, from the early days of contracts to the film’s premiere. An excellent book that features many unique photos and details.

Chekov’s Enterprise: A Personal Journal of the Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1980)
by Walter Koenig

This text is much like actor Bob Balaban’s diary of the making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and represents the 1970s trend of personal accounts of filmmaking (the same kinds of books were available for films such as Jaws). Koenig provides a funny and sometimes emotional presentation from his experiences. The details are very good, and the book is a daily accounting of events. Especially entertaining is when Koenig shares his opinions about situations and interactions with actors and the director Robert Wise. The book is also interesting to read now (there are new editions available) considering that it was written before the modern trend of Star Trek nonfiction books being full of the emotional vinegar of negative commentaries and hurt feelings. Written in the era when we thought the actors liked one another and the crew was as much a family off screen as on screen, the text is now a nostalgic account of the TMP era.

The Making of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
by Allan Asherman

Similar in style and design to other Pocket Books "making of" texts of the era, the TWOK book is replete with details, especially regarding the backgrounds of the actors and crew. Also impressive is the amount of details provided about the previous drafts of the script, and we learn about the amazing variety of versions of TWOK. Saavik as a male? A half human, half polar bear character? Two aliens as the nemesis? Khan and Kirk fighting mano e mano, which was the obvious inspiration for the Kruge battle of the next feature film? The pictures are great, from a smiliing Leonard Nimoy in Spock meditation robes to photos of Nicholas Meyer directing, there is much to like about this volume.

The Star Trek Interview Book (1988)
by Allan Asherman

Allan Asherman has a reputation for a being a popular culture historian (he most recently works for DC Comics in this capacity). He has written The Star Trek Compendium and the previously mentioned making of Star Trek II. Here, he continues to show why he has gained that reputation with excellent interviews for dozens of actors and artists involved in all aspects of making of the TOS-era TV shows and movies. The interview with Gene Roddneberry and Harve Bennett are especially very good. The pictures are not very original, yet the interviews are incredibly detailed.

Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
by Lisabeth Shatner

Regular readers know I have a fascination with William Shatner. He is in many ways my role model, especially on how to age with vigor and his enthusiasm for learning. He makes getting a glass of lemonade sound like the adventure of all time. That is why I really enjoy this making of book about Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It is filled with Shatner’s enthusiasm an artist. It also features details about his original narrative ideas (which are pretty interesting and became compromised as the script went through the approval and budgetary processes). There are details here about how various actors, especially Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, reacted to the script. Also, the book is filled with trivia, such as how the character of Sybok originally intended for Sean Connery (hence the name Sha Ka Ree, which is a tribute to Sean Connery). The photos are mostly of Shatner directing, which delight me, but to be an honest reviewer, it would have been good for those not so fascinated by Shatner to have a variety of photos. Of course, I say, MORE pictures of Shatner. More!

The Making of Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
by Lou Anders

This text was only available in the United Kingdom, published by the magazine licensee Titan. The photos are especially good and this is a text worth adding to the library, especially for its detailing of the designing of the Soverign class USS Enterprise 1701 E.

Star Trek: Action! (1998)
by Terry J. Erdmann

This book had a specific purpose, to chart in detail the making of a specific sequence from the episodes "Hope and Fear" from Voyager and "Tears of the Prophets" from DS9, and the "Picard and Worf help Data" scene from Star Trek: Insurrection. The book therefore provides a great many details about these specific sequences yet it is not a making of the entire TNG feature film. However, from writing to acting to special effects to editing, this is a great discussion of how this scene was crafted. The photos are also very nice, with real behind the scene details, including photos of Patrick Stewart singing.

The Secrets of Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
by Terry J. Erdmann

Those wanting more about Insurrection than was in "Star Trek Action!" about were happy to get Erdmann’s other 1998 ‘making of’ text. An excellent book with many pictures, this book reminds of the Star Trek V behind the scenes account. It provides many details about the movie that-could-have-been, as well as discusses some scenes that were eventually edited out. Erdmann nicely discusses such interesting details as how the Baku village was constructed, and some of the changes made while actually filming various scenes.

Special Mentions: Novelization special features

The novel adaptations of Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, and Star Trek: Nemesis, include bonus "making of" sections called "First Look," the first two being by Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens, and the Nemesis tome being by Paramount publicist Michael Kalstorin. While brief (usually about 40 pages) these offer some good insights and are worth mentioning. The Nemesis discussion is especially interesting, learning about screenwriter John Logan’s fascination with Star Trek and how much detail he added to his original script.


Making of Star Trek (2009)? — My two cents
Despite what some believe, the era of DVD bonus features has not killed off "making of" books. Nearly every "summer" film has "making of" or "art of" texts, from Superman Returns to Indiana Jones, from Iron Man to Batman Begins. Pocket Books has yet to announce any plans for books relating to JJ Abrams 2009 Star Trek film (adaptation, making of, or art books). Eight months before Paramount’s Indiana Jones 4 (which is very similar to Star Trek in marketing terms) fans knew about James Rollins adaptation and a "Making of" had also been announced. Let’s hope we will see the same for the new Star Trek


Special thanks to Steve Roby’s Complete Starfleet Library website for the cover scans.


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I hope that they make one of these for ST:11

They still make things in paper?

The Making of ST11- if they’re sellin’, I’m buyin’!

John, you write “Credited as the very first ‘Making of’ for television, Stephen E. Whitfield’s ‘The Making of Star Trek’ has influenced a generation of television writers and special effects artists, and is still used 40 years later in college classes across the nation. ”

This book has been out of print for years. How is it used in college classes across the nation? Just how would you know it was used anyway? Just curious.

Although I am not sure if he uses it in his classes, John himself is a college professor. I suspect he has colleagues who are using it. hopefully he shows up and clarifies.

Sub-point, wonder what sort of DVD extra we can look forward to, seeing as the DVD extras are now pretty much “the making of” book of my generation ….

The “Making of” book for Star Trek V is one of my favorites. It reveals explicitly the ups and downs that went on both in front of and behind the cameras. Shatner’s progression from elation and excitement as the process began, to his frustration with budget cuts and the writer’s strike, to the final realization that he would be forced to release a film he himself knew to be deeply flawed, is palpable. After reading the book, I felt very differently about the movie and look at it now much more as it could (should) have been. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of this much-maligned Trek film, and to anyone interested in filmmaking in general.

Ah Ha! I know how Shatner is to be involved with the film he will be pegged (no pun intended) to write the novelization. O paramount, you guys gotta wake up pretty early in the morning to pull the wool over these eyes

So, perhaps a 2009 tome should be titled “The Remaking of Star Trek” ;)

#4,5 Amazon Used Booksellers. It’s easy to get a copy of Making of.

#7 Agreed. After reading the book, I wish we could have seen the movie the way Shatner wanted it. And with ILM doing special effects, not cousin Benny and Luigi in a garage in New Jersey.

Dunder Mifflin: Limitless Paper, In a Paperless World.

RE: 4. The Weary Professor

” …This book has been out of print for years. How is it used in college classes across the nation?…”

Well… it’s called a “library”.

Re: #10

Thanks for the reply, John. Yes, I am a fellow instructor (albeit a weary one).

Those publish-to-order texts usually involve choosing from a relatively small database of licensed available works. If a Trek-related one was among them, it would be quite a surprise to me. Regarding your other point, I can imagine my department’s reaction if I told them one of the required texts for my course had been out of print for a dozen years and students would have to find used copies somewhere. It would not be encouraging.

I mean no disrespect at all, but the answer you gave when I asked how you know the book is still used in college classes across the country sidestepped the issue. Saying Trek is ones of your “specializations” and leaving it at that is akin to saying “I know because I know” and ending the conversation. I’m asking because I’ve never heard of a reference or resource that lists what specific books are being taught at a given time. The only data I get is from publisher sales reps, who are obviously pushing their products.

I also ask because, in my experience, Star Trek has regrettably fallen into relative obscurity in modern classes. If I make a fairly obvious Trek reference to illustrate a point I’m usually the only one in the room who knows what I’m talking about. I get the infamous blank stare from students. It would be nice to know that that isn’t universally the case.

Thanks again for the reply.

Not a bad article, but somebody forgot the part where it says “Thanks to Steve Roby’s Complete Starfleet Library website for the cover scans.”

I’ll buy the making of 11… especially if it comes out for THIS Christmas.

Always loved the making of books about TOS. Never even knew about these others. HA! I don’t remember skipping that section of the book area. Were they widely distributed?

My grandparents had the very first printing of that “Making of Star Trek” book, which featured a photo of the Enterprise against a blue sky (from “Tomorrow is Yesterday”) and I remember about wetting myself when I found it in their bookcase!

Definitely get it if you can find it, it’s loaded with conceptual drawings and photos of props and being on the set. In fact, I believe one of the early designs was actually used in the final TNG episode, the Pasteur (?) which was commanded by Crusher. I think! It’s a great book.

“Never even knew about these others. HA! I don’t remember skipping that section of the book area. Were they widely distributed?”

Most of those books were published by Pocket, so they should have been fairly easy to find in North America. Many bookstores put these kinds of books in a movies/TV/performing arts section instead of with other Star Trek books, though.

The one book that was relatively hard to find in North America was The Making of Star Trek: First Contact, which was published by a British company.

The Making of Star Trek is, indeed, a great book and anyone who hasn’t read it should pick up a used copy from Amazon and read it.

I read it as a kid and couldn’t find my original copy, so I bought a used 2nd printing and have been reading it again, many years later.


Thank you again for the reply.

I would disagree with you about the popularity of Star Trek in academia, despite its niche appeal of the generic society, and the utilization of “The Making of Star Trek” by Stephen Whitfield is a perennial for academic endeavors about Star Trek.

Star Trek classes are quite popular across the country now. At Lake Tahoe Community College, they have a class about once a year (in Anthropology) about Star Trek taught by Daryl Frazetti. At my college, there has been a Star Trek class (taught by either myself for sociology or a colleague in English and a colleague in Philosophy (for the Humanities)) about six times in the last decade. This January 2009, we offer “The Sociology of Star Trek” again. I am also teaching a class on Star Trek at the local library for the community May 2009. Georgetown has a “Philosophy and Star Trek” class. Indiana University has a “Religion and Star Trek” class. Purdue has a narratology seminar that utilizes Star Trek.

Also, you comment “I mean no disrespect at all, but the answer you gave when I asked how you know the book is still used in college classes across the country sidestepped the issue. Saying Trek is ones of your “specializations” and leaving it at that is akin to saying “I know because I know” and ending the conversation.””

Here is a more detailed answer, then. I didn’t want to get into writing a vita curriculum here, but I hope this answers your criticism. Saying “Star Trek and popular culture” are my specializations is not sidestepping the issue. In this capacity and because I am also Chair of Sociology and Anthropology, I have contacts with popular culture teachers from many universities and fellow fans who teach Star Trek and Star Wars classes at grammar schools. In 2006, I studied 8,036 science fiction fans from 54 nations (comparing Star Trek, Star Wars, and Superman fans to media stereotypes) and the study has been featured in the documentary “The Force Among Us” and on WGN News, the Chicago Tribune, and BBC Radio in Ecuador. All that exposure brought me many nice contacts with fellow teachers of all kinds who utilize Star Trek or science fiction in their classes around the world. Some do indeed use “The Making of Star Trek” as there is probably no better historical text, and since the last printing was 1991, it isn’t terribly difficult to obtain copies.

Whitfield’s text is vitally important to popular culture studies. It is cited in many academic journal articles, as recently as 2007’s “Play v. Presence in Star Trek” by Scott Duchense in the “Journal of Humanities and Social Science” (2007) and 2005’s “Cold War Pop Culture and the Image of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Perspective of the Original Star Trek Series” by Nicholas Sarantakes in the “Journal of Cold War Studies”.

I guess we also have differing experiences about out of print texts, too. As Chair, I do not have a problem with my faculty using out of print books. I find it problematic that whether a publisher thinks a book is profitable ought to determine a teacher’s pedagogy. Out of print doesn’t equate with out of ideas. If a book is perfect for a class and will benefit students, then I would agree with any professor who wished to utilize the text, and either the bookstore or the students would obtain used copies. If one is dealing with the history of Star Trek, there is no better book than “The Making of Star Trek.” The truth is many students get their texts via the internet now. Bookstores are “old fashioned” and they get better prices at used bookstores. Almost 40% of our students do not get their books at the bookstore on campus anymore, yet utilize the various resources online. Indeed, textbooks themselves are beginning to be replaced by electronic or interactive editions (albeit slowly).

I hope this answers your questions and concerns. “The Making of Star Trek” is still quite popular in academia, as are Star Trek themed classes.

Thank you

I read most of these. The Koenig book gives an interesting day to day look at STTMP. The Making of STTMP has lots of stuff about the genesis (no pun intended of the movie. I would have liked to read more about the FX problems, deleted scenes. Douglas Trumbull took over STTMP FX from another company and many sequences were dropped for various reasons. STTMP was so complex and difficult the book could have been three times the length. The Star Trek:Phase II book has the original script for TMP in it — the TV show script. I don’t think the full script is in the movie book. I found Cinefex #1 and the two part STTMP articles in ENTERPRISE INCIDENTS (showing Memory Wall stuff) informative on STTMP. Andy Probert’s website has many designs on it. TMP was so rich it could fill a few more books. The Making of Star Trek is the gold standard, though..

Preston Jones wrote an as-yet unpublished book on the making of TMP that would probably have covered a lot of the behind-the-scenes problem. It started as a Cinefantastique feature and ended up as a manuscript long enough to be three books.

Then there’s Michael Piller’s unpublished book on the making of Insurrection, which apparently discussed how and why the script changed from his original vision.

It’d be great if those books could be published some day….

Trek provides endless illustrations for classes of all kinds. Right now I’m teaching a Sunday school class for adult men on how men relate to their fathers, their sons and each other, and I’m using three episodes — DS9’s ‘The Visitor,’ TOS’s ‘Journey To Babel’ and TNG’s ‘Family’ — to prompt discussion and perspective. So far it’s been quite effective.

Sorry to hear that Whitfield’s book is out of print. I’ll be sure to hold on to my copy. It is a fascinating read of the conception and development of TOS.

I too am interested in all things about the making of TMP. I had always hoped for a companion to the Phase II book picking up where that one left off in a similar “timeline” format (what events happened on what date). In fact I think the authors even teased the possiblity a little by saying the TMP story was a story for another book or something like that. The Abel & Associates saga in particular has, to my mind, been glossed over way too much and demands a more critical analysis. I’ve read everything from Abel not producing one foot of FX footage (from the producers) to “everything was done; all Trumbull and Dykstra had to do was turn the key” (paraphrased from a great Richard Taylor interview). Too bad the Preston Jones book hasn’t been published; with the 30th anniversary of TMP and the new movie it might be a good time for it.

If anyone can recommend other resources on the topic (particularly specific magazine back issues such as Cinefantastique, Starlog, Cinefex, etc.) I for one would appreciate it.

Not to get too off topic, but I’d love to see more (if not ALL) of the Phase II test footage glimpsed in the Phase II book and the TMP:DE DVD.

I don’t think its ‘ironic’ that TMP is the best of the ‘Making of’ books. It was, up until now, the biggest and longest productions (counting the aborted tv series), so there was a lot more material to detail.
The succeeding films were lesser in production detail, so there’s less to talk about. II was made by Paramount’s TV division!

Hopefully, there will be a decent ‘Making of’ the new Trek film…with some nice color glossies!

Joe Atari –

You can check out the following issues of Cinefex which cover Star Trek: The Motion Picture:

#1 March, 1980 “Into the V’ger Maw with Douglas Trumbull”

#2 August, 1980 “Star Trekking at Apogee with John Dykstra”

Re: #19

Thanks for the detailed response, John. I appreciate the time and thought it took to compose.

It does answer my question to the best extent I suspect it can be answered. I concur that the Whifield book is quite good (although I have no idea which storage box my copy resides in and haven’t seen it in years). I’ll have to get in touch again at some point re: the details of the courses you mentioned. I’m curious as to enrollments, student interest level, class procedure, et. al., but don’t want to get into a long off-topic exchange in this forum. Note to Anthony: Perhaps if it hasn’t been done yet, this might be an interesting piece to ask John to write for the site. If it has already been done, perhaps you could provide the article link.

Thanks again for getting back to me, John. I look forward to reading more of your work.

I liked TMP personally speaking.
Even in it’s ‘unfinished’ state it was a great Star Trek film.
Yea, it took only 20 years to ‘finish’ it, but it’s not as bad as folks paint it to be.

Now I know a lot of folks would of just wanted the Big E to torpedo V’ger and be done with it, but the film was about the big idea, an idea so big that even a mere film can’t contain it, The Human Adventure of course.

Also was about how ‘obsession’ can blind you to enjoy The Human Adventure, like how Kirk was obsessed with getting command of the Enterprise back, how Spock, yes Spock, was obsessed with achieving ‘Perfect Logic’ at it’s core it’s a story about coming to grips with ones ‘obession’ and overcoming it to see what’s really going on around you.

Like how some fans are ‘obsessed’ to see Shatner in the new film, they won’t be happy even if it’s the greatest Star Trek film ever, for Shatner isn’t in it, blind ‘obsession’ isn’t a good thing.

Just remember folks – The Adventure Continues

Don’t forget “The World of Star Trek” by Tribbles-scribe David Gerrold. I am revisiting that old friend right now.

Though, even he cites Whitfield and Roddenberry’s “Making of Star Trek”

One of the best!

There was also a Making of Trek VI – “Charting The Undiscovered Country” by Mark Altman, Ron Magid and Ed Gross. Published by Cinemaker Press in 1992..quite rare I think.

On the back it has a quote from a journo that states ‘this may very well be the best book ever written about Star Trek’ and I have to agree 100%…very candid – goes into depth about what went wrong with Trek V (as recounted by Shatner, Bennett etc etc), Bennetts Starfleet Academy Trek VI, and explores the possibilities (at the time) for a Trek VII (with the original crew) and an eventual TNG movie…

And don’t forget ‘The Making of the Trek Films’ from Image Publishing – again I think that was by Altman and Gross around 1992 and charted the evolution of the original six films (but only a few pages dedicated to VI as there was the separate Making of VI)

Both books are great….and far supieror to any of the ‘offical’ making of books…

oh yeah i see the bit that said non licensed texts have been left off the lists

The magazine Cinefantastique did some great issues on original trek as well – there were several on TOS (20th, 25th and 30th anniverasry tribute issues)

plus movies issues on Trek II, the Genesis Trilogy (big double issue about II,III,IV) , Trek VI (those issues contained alot of what was eventually put into the Making of The Trek Films and Making of VI books) plus issues on Gen, FC and Ins…think the mag had pretty much finished when Nem came out as the guy who founded it killed himself in 2000 or thereabouts :(

I totally want an art of book.

I still have all the Starlog movie mags from TWOK to Generations.

Re: #29

Speaking of David Gerrold, there is also the excellent “Making of ‘The Trouble With Tribbles'”.

I remember when “The Making of Star Trek” came out. From its pictures, I finally got a good look at the insignias, a phaser, a communicator, a tricorder and all the other gadgets (the scalpels were salt and pepper shakers — you could see the holes).

It was quite educational, how TV shows (and movies) are shot out of sequence, how things like props only need to look right for the camera and not be right in reality, and all the memos that flew back and forth. Gene Roddenberry took credit with Whitfield and in this case it was justified — have the books was memos from him and interviews with him.

I didn’t know that it was the first “making of” book on a TV show. Another piece of ground broken by Star Trek.

I think the Garfield-Reeves did a great job on making of Phase II and Star Trek the Motion Picture. Throw in Shatner’s Movie Memories and you get a pretty good picture of the disarray that led to a very mediocre film that fell way short of the Star Trek Potential.


I believe that the title of Shatner’s “Star Trek V” book should have been “William Shatner Being Held Personally Accountable for the Making of Star Trek V”. Nothing, nothing would have helped that movie.